A worker of miracles, a shepherd to Israel, the mouthpiece of God, and a great deliverer; there is little surprise why Moses is heralded in the Jewish faith as the greatest prophet who ever lived. His life is marked as one of intercession in the face of Israel's persistent rebellion, faithful to stand before God and plead on His people's behalf, when a righteous judgment against their complaints, idolatry, and disobedience is death.
Indeed, there is no doubt that Moses is a great prophet and servant of God, despite his own shortcomings. But is he the greatest who ever lived?
In Deuteronomy 18:17-19, the LORD says to Israel, through Moses,
I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.
God raised up many prophets over the course of Israel's history, yet while these men were men of great faith and obedience, none of the Biblical authors ever record them as reaching the repute of Moses. Even Elijah, who Malachi prophecies as the one who will come "before the great and awesome day of the LORD" (Mal. 4:5-6), is not equated with the same station as Moses, who God chose to lead His people out of their enslavement in Egypt and toward the land He promised to their father Abraham many years before.
Yet where the Old Testament still looks forward to the day when this Prophet will come, the authors of the New Testament declare that He already has.
“Consider Jesus,” the author of Hebrews writes,
the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God's house. For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses - as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honour than the house itself. (Heb. 3:1-3)
The parallels between Moses and Jesus' lives are impeccable: both prophets, with the authority to give law to, and command obedience from, the nation of Israel. Both shepherds and mediators, who intercede for the people, and are willing to die on their behalf even as their people walk in sin. Both intimate with God, in ways unparalleled by any other. Both great deliverers, the first leading God's people out of physical slavery, and the second, out of the far weightier bondage to sin and spiritual death. Both threatened at birth, both called out of Egypt, both workers of miracles, both instigators of a covenant for God's people to receive and live by – yet how much greater is Christ’s!
Jesus is the fulfillment of Moses' words in Deuteronomy 18; as Peter declares, in the book of Acts, "all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days" (Acts 3:19-24). And God Himself "foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer” (Acts 3:18), and He glorified Jesus by raising Him from the dead, so declaring that "he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them" (Heb. 7:25).
Jesus is the only man who has ever surpassed the greatness of Moses, and the One to whom all the writings of Moses, from Genesis to Deuteronomy, point. For while the covenant under Moses demanded perpetual cleansing and sacrifice, Christ’s covenant is once for all (Heb. 10). Because of the sacrifice of His holy life He offered on our behalf, we can approach God with confidence, with Christ as our mediator, “that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).